Saturday, October 24, 2009

Building the Duk Padiet School, Brick-by-Brick

Hope... it goes beyond the next day's sailing prospects... it is the basis of making this world a better place, for everyone.
There is hope at
This is part of the story of Southern Sudan... and what is happening there. I am hoping to interest my friends and others in learning about Africa... and why we should be more than simply 'interested'.

Several weeks ago, Lynnda and I were working on our foundation's 2009 donations. One of our board members, after we had chosen one of the groups to support, said "now, what do you want to do with the rest". Lynnda replied... "I just want to buy goats for kids in Africa". We kinda chuckled together, and really didn't think much more about it. Lynnda and I had discussed various personal Christmas Gifts last year, and again this... settling on clean-water wells and goats for African families... but the Foundation, that is different and we had not considered it.

After the meeting, Lynnda and I had about two hours to kill, so we headed over to Saint Mary's University, my alma mater. We decided to drop in on Pat Bishara who is responsible for securing donations to the university. We have worked with Pat on several projects, mostly around the Chard - Hutton Foundation.

We asked Pat what she was working on... there was a pile of paper on her desk... and she said it was a special thing she was helping a student with... a book that was being published about Southern Sudan, Africa. Well, that is enough to tweek one's interest...

Turns out, a student named Jacob Deng had transferred in to SMU from Acadia University. Jacob is from Southern Sudan... a town named Duk Padiet which is in a Christian area of Sudan... via countless refugee camps and the impossible... Jacob had earned a full ride to our university. A different route... he had been driven from his village as a child, when his parents and several siblings were murdered, along with other family and tribe members... by insurgent troops... looking to dominate the Christians and the geography... because there is a lot of undeveloped oil in the ground in Southern Sudan.

A few years ago, Jacob decided that he wanted to help his homeland improve from the destitute status the people were living with today. He started a Society called Wadeng Wings of Hope. He started getting donations that would be used to buy goats for the people left in his village. He has done that for several years now... a few hundred in total. Goats provide high protein milk for the families... from the scrub land that is not yet developed.

Then the society started working on a project... to educate the children of the village and surrounding area. They don't have schools there today... but one day, Jacob wants to build one, teach in it, and run the courses through high school, so that the children can follow his foot prints, through university.

This year we are supporting the purchase of 50 more goats... and materials for the women of the village to sew into clothing for the children. We will also be helping Jacob with his project to build and run a school ... it is called the Duk Padiet School Project... Building Hope, Brick by Brick.

Next year... well, we will cross each bridge as they come... but surly it will and we will. It has already been an amazing story... to have Pat introduce us to the 'Goat Guy', just a few moments after Lynnda's comment that she just wanted to buy goats... there have to be more bridges... like the one Pat has shown us

It is a big project... hope you will have a look at the web site... and wonder if you too will help in the future...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

50% of all healthcare costs occur in the last twelve months of the patient's life.

Several years ago, I was at a medical conference in the USA where a speaker stated that 50% of all healthcare costs occur in the last twelve months of the patient's life. In the USA and Canada, this means that approximately a trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000.00) could be saved in the first year we decide to allow these people to die at their natural "time".

That is a rather stark fact! I suppose there are those who would argue the facts, and perhaps we could probably give up six of those months... what ever... and only save $500,000,000,000. Why are we not even discussing things like this... instead of fighting about healthcare reform?

There is a light at the end of the tunnel... it is better known as "enlightenment". We need to discuss the most effective ways to save the system money, instead of trying to bandage a "broke (en)" system. Let's have a debate about the difference between prolonging life, and prolonging death... and the difference.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My Travels To Ontario

Starting a trip that I have made countless times since the first, when I was about 16yo, from Nova Scotia to Ontario... I have done it on my thumb (can't do that any more), by train and plane, and by car... it has taken me as few as 18 hours and as long as six days (that's the thumb)... this time it was the better part of three days to travel the 1,260 or so miles. It turned out to be a great trip.

This picture is at the start, two kayaks up, three bikes on, five pair of skies in and a pair of five wheeled roller blades... not to mention the crash kit, luggage, treats and me. Now I only need a dog and I will be happy! For the trip that is, I can't be long without Lynnda, eh!

I was on my way to close the deal on our new home in Niagara-on-the-Lake... but had plans on the way... stop and see my cousin in Truro (check, had lunch with Leigh Ann Hyndman); stop in Amherst to visit with Donnie and Karen Cormier (check, they are doing very well, as is their business); stay with my long time friend Yvon Turcotte for a night (check, he and his Yorkies Winnie and Tweety are doing great in their home on the St. Lawrence near to Montreal); stop and meet Evan Friedman at Intronix in Bolton, Ontario (check, what a neat little company that is looking for distribution and partners in the USA and around the world) and then visit with my great friends David and Shirley Kuehner in Meaford, Ontario (check, we stored my gear in their barn, walked the 100+ acres of spectacular farmland and had a great tongue wag over some great Shirley's cooking and libation)... these interesting sunset pics were from the first night out...

I had been travelling through a rain and heavy wind storm when the clouds began to break-up. The first inkling of good weather (turned out to be fools gold) I decided to occupy my hands with the camera and get a picture of what was a promising addition to my sunset collection...

Soon I had to pull over and catch some keepers... the first with the flash on from the side of the highway... I could drive for miles here in Northern New Brunswick without worrying about traffic...

This pair is a Portrait format below, and a Google reformating of a great Landscape shot that will be in my library, on the top. Why in the... did they ever reformat it? Nothing I can do in Blogspot land about it, so I just have to complain here...

On the trip it was inevitable that I would run into some traffic. It started in Quebec, and I shot this relativelly complex pic (below the sunsets) with blue skies, mirror reflection, still and moving sections, all in focus.

Anyone who has driven into Ontario on the 401 will recognize the next photo, when coming to the first of several exits to Kingston. The layers of white/grey stone are spectacular. When the 401 was carved out of the granite, they didn't anticipate the need to one day have more than four lanes... so the over-passes are concrete and ready for... ever! But one day they will have to be ready for the floods of traffic that are already a mainstay of the days on the 401 west of there, as one approaches the Big Smoke.
Still, it is always exciting, after a thousand miles, to consider how to reach out of the Jeep and in to the back gate of a Labatt Blue... it is in fact "The Good Stuff" for many,

but a more true representative of our beers might, I say might, be Molson's Canadian... the former is ironically made in Ontario and the later in Quebec... go figure that the guys 'making' beers got their names mixed up, English to French. No wonder the guys drinking them can't tell...

After a while it became necessary to start getting serious about driving... after all, the two kayaks up were giving me new dynamics to deal with when these guys started ganging up on me. They pretty much had me penned in here... but I emerged unscathed... I simply jammed on my breaks, made them jack around me, and I floored it into the far left lane, going for the smooth air in the lead... right...

Well, here we are in on the outskirts of Toronto... still the 401, but now 14 lanes wide... concentrate! All I have to do is keep those two lines somewhere to the right of center... wow, what a pretty sky.

Breaking free of Toronto, and headed north on HWY 50... the sun is going down on me... and the kayaks are racing with me. It is close, this is like a photo finish, the Jeep wins by a nose... I am getting close to Dave and Shirley's and I can taste a cold one... Look at those farm fields... I must have just missed that bike in the mirror...

That sun is really getting down... it kinda looks like there is a guy up there paddling hard to pass me... still nice fields, but harvested.

This is close to last light before sunset... those horse tails mean a windy day to come... but it did break beautiful in the morning, as I pulled away from Kuehner's farm and down the hill into Meaford... and toward the reunion (if we are allowed to call it that) in Muskoka.

I will arrive there in time to meet Ross at the marina, with my two bottles of Nova Scotia wine, and a case of Alpine Lager.

I am thinking ahead to the tenth gathering of these guys who were the mainstay of Camp Pinecrest in the later 60's and early 70's. I missed last year, so it will be great to see everyone. This is the 40th Anniversary of a great year that we had in Muskoka together (along with about 800 other campers.

Camp is down that highway, across the Georgian Bay (I will ahve to drive around the Bay for about two hours to get to where I am to meet Ross... but it gives me time to think of the lies and tales I will hear and tell this year. They get larger with the anniversary, and next year we will have a three day celebration of the first century for Camp Pinecrest.

A few pics from Go Home Lake, 2009

Aside from one picture being duplicated, and due to the large file sizes I can't be bothered reloading these in order to get ride of one, there is an interesting thing happening to all these guys... we have either no hair or is is grey... what's with that?

These were taken mid-Sunday as we were contemplating the trips home... using slightly adjusted brains, after the banquet setting and long day past, we are looking rather serious.

Well, what about the Bala Bay Lodge in June, 2010. Who can get there with a spouse? Will it take a serious shopping side trip to get them there? What about the 40 year old stories that are bound to float at the celebration on Saturday? Will there be a concert at the Key-to-Bala on Friday night? Will we have a Sunday program... or should it be "on your own"?

Pinecrest 69ers Reunion... 2009

When one remembers Muskoka, I am certain the adjective, 'beautiful', comes to mind in every aspect. For me it is the colors of the trees, mosses, lichens, and granite; the clear, lake and river waters; and the people I have met there over the past 40+ years. This picture to the left is basically the front lawn (if I can call it that) and trees of the McKerron, Go Home Lake cottage in Muskoka. In many ways it reminds me of the Musquodoboit Valley and River near here in Nova Scotia... I often wonder if the "Musk/Musq" part of each name came through the native First Nation Peoples as they tried to best describe both areas in naming them.

This location is just a kilometer or so from a portage to the Georgian Bay, part of the Great Lake, Huron.

This is a beautiful location, accessible only by boat in the summer... snow mobile over ice-bridges in the winter... or long hikes is a great place to have a reunion.

Ross McKerron hosts our meet each September. This was the tenth time the various attendees have gotten together, and represents the 40th Anniversary of the year (1969) that we all worked at Camp Pinecrest.

The group, usually numbering around 20 come from around Ontario, and a few drop in from afar, each year. The picture, above is from the cottage to the wharfs... as is obvious, the weather curtailed the canoeing this year... or maybe it is the aging of the

population! There were few of us that made Morning Dip this year... and I was not one of them.

One of the treats that Ross had in store for us this year was an acquisition he had recently made of a 1906 vintage, hand made, cedar strip canoe... what a beautiful float, demonstrated here by Barney Morehouse who was a senior guide for Pinecrest in the 60's and is now a nature writer living in the Northern Ontario region.

To the left in this picture is Ross, wearing his 2005 PGA shirt... he is summer torn between the past and the present... canoeing and golf. Interesting that the PGA was held at Pinehurst #2 Course... I guess that's almost Pinecrest.

Great weekend Ross, thanx!

Our plans for 2010, the 100th Anniversary of the opening of Camp Pinecrest, a 640 acre base camp near Bala, Muskoka, Ontario include the 1969 team renting the entire Bala Bay Inn, and other celebratory functions... I understand that there will be shopping for the spouses as we returning staff tell lies and ever longer stories of our best years... on the water!

Getting to Niagara-on-the-Lake

There were a lot of reasons for buying the particular home we did... the one at 96 Paffard Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake. But if we were to name one, it would be the existing gardens and the potential we have on the property. There are fourteen Japanese Maples along with many other beauties too numerous to count... but include maple, beech, cedar, juniper, red bud, elm, and several we have never seen. There is also a 5.5 foot deep pond with a giant filtration system that will allow koi to live... along with others. The house is on the south side of the street, and when you look south from the mid-point, you can see here, the view past a large silver maple to the pond. There is a lot of statuary, stone supported gardens (most of which will change from formal boxwood defined to Lynnda's favored English Perennial gardens in the coming years.

The owner that designed the gardens several years ago was originally from Madagascar, off Africa, and he knew what he wanted... privacy and peace... he hand built eight foot cedar fencing, cutting each strip of cedar webbing with a saw over a couple of summers.

His design of the koi pond is right from a 1995 book which was left with the house... making it easy for us to assimilate what he was thinking, even though it was not kept up by the latest owners.

Looking north, again from the mid-point, the deck is outlined by yet more boxwood and plantings. The deck and back of the house will soon be a large glassed in porch, allowing four-seasons of living in the natural surroundings, protected from the elements.

From the Street, looking south, here is 96 Paffard Street if you are coming to visit. Of course you are welcome if you are in NOTL for the Shaw Festival, or just checking out one of the 21 (and counting) vineyard wine outlets in the town. The old village dates to the 1700's when the town was the capital of the Upper Canadian Territory. The history is mostly of British settlers, with a lot of them coming via the USA as Loyalists, following the American Revolution and also the War of 1812.
Many will wonder where exactly NOTL is on a map. Look for Niagara Falls and follow the river to where it empties into Lake Ontario... it is across the river from Lewiston, NY. Because it is on the lake side of what is known as the Bench and the Canadian Shield, the weather in NOTL is significantly more mild than the rest of Ontario, and in particular the area around Buffalo, which we all know as a snow wonderland... wondering why anyone would want to live there...

So, that's the story of our move to Niagara, and my trip to in September. We are going to miss our friends in Nova Scotia, but look forward to visiting them, and they, us. I will be coming to Halifax regularly for my check-ups three or four times a year, so I will be staying in touch, and as a Bluenoser will keep up with the Down-East nature of my soul.

An Update on Scott

Well, it has been about three weeks since I wrote about Scott's passing after being dragged overboard off a herring seiner on the Atlantic Ocean's Devil's Island near to Halifax. There was a hugely attended memorial service for Scott and his family found out how much he meant to many people... he clearly was a part of our "main" here on the Eastern Shore.

Scott has not been found, and we will always be looking to the sea in hope of closure for his family. In the interim, we remember him well. Scott, this time, it tolls for thee...


My photo

Grad. Saint Mary's University, 1975, got into the medical device business initially in sales, then various management positions up to president, all in Medical Devices. I prefer therapy products over diagnostic, but they are all fun, and in a way have defined my life. I have now evolved, with help from my 35 year partner Lynnda with whom I now share every hour. I am into staying healthy, photography, kayaking, bicycling, gardening and two books a week. I wish I had gotten to this stage earlier!